This article will define sales and marketing alignment, discuss the benefits of sales and marketing alignment, and offer best practices for bringing your sales and marketing departments closer together.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT?
Aligning sales and marketing is the practice of bringing the two departments together as much as possible. Alignment enables them to see and grasp their commonalities, differences, and what they must contribute to the other department in order to maintain a healthy partnership. The following are examples of sales and marketing alignment indicators:
Keeping in touch and holding meetings on a regular basis
Understanding the other department’s tasks and responsibilities
Knowing and comprehending the goals and objectives of the other departments
Providing each other with regular feedback and input
Defining terms and agreeing on them (such as MQLs, SALs, SQLs)
SLAs are created and agreed upon.
Attendance and representation at each other’s staff meetings
Account planning actions are shared.
Participating in customer meetings and visits, for example.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT?
Everyone understands that a company’s sales and marketing teams have fundamentally different functions. Sales is in charge of selling the company’s products and services, while marketing is in charge of creating the content and resources that make the sale possible. Both are customer-facing (sales more so than marketing), and both are critical to a company’s success.
However, due to the silos that exist in most firms, sales and marketing divisions are generally far away and do not communicate or interact on a regular basis, rather than being tightly linked and engaged. This might result in inefficiencies in both sectors, resulting in missed opportunities and wasted money.
However, in actuality, sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Both departments report to the same top executive in many firms, who has a vested interest in ensuring that both departments perform to their full potential. Both departments are in charge of increasing sales. Both companies want to expand their customer base. Customers are dealt with by both. All of this contributes to the company’s revenue generation. The fundamental distinction between the two departments is how they carry out their different responsibilities.
Breaking down the barriers between departments helps both departments become more productive and efficient, which benefits the company. According to a recent Aberdeen Group1 analysis, firms who use sales and marketing alignment best practices show considerable increases in sales quota achievement (38%) and YoY corporate revenue (13.1%) compared to those that do not.
As a result, your sales and marketing departments must be in sync.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO ALIGNMENT
While achieving sales and marketing harmony may appear tough and time-consuming at first, there is no secret. It’s a simple matter of reaching across the table and setting up communication between the two departments.
Engagement, interaction, and understanding will follow once communication has been established.
The best practices listed below (organized by category) provide easy-to-follow guidance for starting the alignment process or ensuring that any alignment you already have continues to develop and grow. These recommendations can be utilized separately or combined into a bigger, more structured approach, depending on your situation.
Allow marketing to participate in sales meetings on a regular basis, if possible. This gives marketing insight into what matters to sales, how they deal with customers, and what they require from marketing, among other things.
Allow sales to participate in marketing meetings on a regular basis, if possible. This gives sales insight into the type of material that marketing need, assists in breaking down barriers, corrects or eliminates any misconceptions, and so on.
Define and develop methods for providing input and feedback between the two departments.
PERSPECTIVE ON CUSTOMERS
Allow marketing to join the sales team for in-house customer briefings. This gives marketing a better understanding of how customers see the brand and how sales uses the materials they provide.
Allow marketing to accompany sales on customer calls or visits whenever and wherever possible.
Together, define and create a “ideal” or target consumer profile.
OBJECTIVES, METRICS, AND PROCESSES GOALS, OBJECTIVES, AND PROCESSES
Ascertain that marketing is aware of the sales objectives and targets.
Determine how marketing activities will complement and align with sales goals and objectives in a clear and concise manner.
Define and develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to support goals and objectives.
Ascertain that both departments are aware of and agree on the metrics to be utilized.
Determine whether there are any shared aims and objectives.
Define and agree on common definitions that will be utilized across departments (such as MQL, SAL, SQL).
Define and agree on a process for handing off the lead.
Set agreed-upon service level agreements (SLAs).
Define and improve reporting methods.
CAMPAIGN PLANNING AND MARKETING ACTIVITIES
Request that marketing leadership allow salespeople to participate in (as much as feasible) marketing activities and campaigns.
Request that sales leadership allow and/or assign different salespeople to participate in marketing initiatives and campaigns (to the extent possible).
Include sales in the planning process for any marketing activity or campaign from the start.
Inviting sales to attend regular meetings about the marketing activity or campaign is a good idea.
During the marketing development phase, include a feedback loop with sales.
Throughout the development of the marketing activity, solicit comments and suggestions from sales. This ensures that what is being developed is on track and on target, as well as preventing marketing from being developed in a vacuum.
During and after the marketing activity or campaign, include sales in the metrics and data evaluation (to the extent possible).
Even after the launch, keep these sales and marketing alignment actions going.
ACTIVITIES AND PLANNING FOR SALES ACCOUNTS
Request that sales management allow marketing professionals to participate (as much as possible) in sales account planning and related activities.
Request that marketing leadership allow and/or assign different marketing employees to participate in sales account planning and related activities (as much as feasible).
BENEFITS OF SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT
Numerous advantages will begin to accrue when sales and marketing alignment improves, including:
Removes the need for sales and marketing to work in isolation.
Communication across departments has improved and/or increased.
Both departments’ reporting should be more accurate.
Lead quality has improved.
Better and/or shared usage of technology amongst departments leads to increased productivity.
Marketing materials become more closely matched with the sales department’s objectives and requirements.
More tailored sales and marketing materials result in a better customer experience.
MORE SALES = MORE REVENUE = SALES + MARKETING
While sales and marketing alignment may take some effort to achieve at first, it is the key to greater income in the long run.